Housing Principles

ARCA Fundamental Housing Principles

There is agreement among regional centers, ARCA, DDS, parents, and consumers that we want a future in which people with developmental disabilities have affordable, appropriate homes of their choice in the community.  Therefore, the mission is to enhance the lives of people with developmental disabilities by creating integrated, affordable, sustainable, and accessible housing options within our California communities.

There are nationwide efforts to remove barriers to community living for people of all ages with disabilities. The New Freedom Initiative (NFI) was announced by President Bush on February 1, 2001, followed up by the Executive Order 13217 on June 18, 2001. It represents a step in working to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to learn and develop skills, engage in productive work, choose where to live, and participate in community life. This initiative supports states’ efforts to meet the goals of the Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court decision issued in July 1999 that requires states to administer services, programs, and activities “in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.” In addition, the Capitol People First settlement urges the state and regional centers to support the development of integrated, affordable, sustainable, and accessible housing for consumers in the community.

In order to support the goals and intent of federal initiatives, the Olmstead decision, and the Capitol People First settlement agreement, the following ARCA fundamental principles will serve as guidelines for future housing development activities:

1. Affordable housing is not a disability issue; it is a community issue.

When there is sufficient, affordable housing, people of all ages with unique needs and vulnerabilities will have stable neighborhoods and healthy environments.  When they thrive, the community thrives.  A healthy and responsible community must identify a housing plan that accommodates all segments of its population, including people with disabilities.  Additionally, the developmental disabilities system has a responsibility to provide local jurisdictions with appropriate information regarding that community’s developmentally disabled population; information that will facilitate the housing plan.

2.  A broad range of housing options must be created in order to meet the diverse needs of this population, which includes a range of housing types, sizes, and locations.  Housing models should be coupled with these specific requirements.

No “one size fits all” housing model will meet everyone’s future housing needs. Community-based living options may include apartments, townhomes, and single-family residences, as well as teaching homes configured as multiplexed units. The optimum housing model should embrace the following requisites:

  • The personal control of a person with developmental disabilities having a “key to the front door”.
  • The appropriate size and mix of housing development for the community at large.  For large multi-family affordable housing developments, (exclusive of HUS 811 projects) the set-aside portion for people with developmental disabilities should mirror population demographics, and avoid the perception of a development for persons with special needs.  With that precept in mind, smaller is always better — demonstrating personal, integrated living arrangements that blend into the community.

3.  Housing should not segregate people.

People with developmental disabilities should have full access to the same opportunities and services available to the general public, with thoughtful consideration and planning to make this a reality.  Opportunities for employment, recreation, and socialization should be readily available in the community.  People with developmental disabilities should not have to leave their community to obtain access to these resources.

4.  Housing must be affordable for people with developmental disabilities.

Most people with developmental disabilities receive monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments of about $900 per month as their sole source of income. Standard housing guidelines suggest that no more than 30% of one’s income should go towards rent. People living on Supplemental Security Income of $900/month, by this standard, should pay no more than $270/month for rent.  It is imperative that resources must be made available to develop housing that is affordable for people living on SSI.

5.  Support services should not be tied to housing.

One of the fundamental principles of the Lanterman Act is that people with developmental disabilities can choose who they live with and where they live.  Support services should be selected based on individual need and delivered on an individual basis, regardless of where the person lives.

6.  Separate the ownership of housing from the provision of services.

Promote acquisition of housing by non-profit housing organizations serving people with developmental disabilities.  The current service delivery system and the associated rates make it extremely difficult for the developmental disabilities system to purchase and retain the real assets so that they can be in perpetual service.  Consequently when residential service providers terminate the residential service, people with developmental disabilities may lose their home and the state of California loses its investment in the associated real estate. The developmental disabilities system requires a shift in public policy that invests in housing assets through the partnership of the regional centers and an associated non-profit housing agency.  This will ensure that the real estate is purchased once and permanently stays in the developmental disabilities system.

7.  The principles of Universal Design and “green” building practices should be embraced.

Universal design is an approach to the design of products, services, and environments to be usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or circumstance.  Universal design strives to be a broad-spectrum solution that helps everyone, not just people with disabilities.  Moreover, it recognizes the importance of how things look.  Green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner.